Jews claim that Israel is unjustly criticized, that it is much more moral than other countries who are not criticized to the same degree. See for example this op-ed by Brent Stevens in the Wall Street Journal.
But like it or not, Jews are held to a higher standard. First, it is a religious state, the Judeo part of the Judeo-Christian faith. Russia makes no claim to such religiosity. Italy conveniently stuck the Vatican in its own, separate country. Saudi Arabia as the keeper of Mecca does make a somewhat similar claim, and it is increasingly caught between its Islamic leadership status and its desire to be just one of the guys when it comes to dealing with the West. But because of its religious character, Israel will always be held to a higher standard than most other countries, and it should be. The US, as the “city on a hill” that Reagan loved faces a similar problem, which is currently illustrated by our debate about torture. Russians don’t get criticized for killing kids in Chechnya like the Israelis do for killing kids in Palestine, and they don’t get criticized for using torture like the US does. If the Jews renounced their God and accepted all the Arabs in Israel (including the West Bank and Gaza) as equals, they would get a lot less criticism. They would be more like an ordinary run of the mill country.
A second issue, however, is the fact that Israel was created by the United Nations. It’s not as if the state of Israel had occupied the land of Palestine for the last 4,000 years. They were missing for the last 1,000 years or so. What Israel has done is not unlike what the US did in slaughtering the Indians and occupying the American West, but this is a different time, and attitudes have changed. What was more or less acceptable in the 1800s is no longer acceptable in the 21st century. It might be unfair, but it’s a fact. So the Israelis and the beneficiaries of this largess of the world through the UN, should seem more grateful and should try to live at peace with their neighbors. Granted the neighbors are unhappy, that’s a challenge for Israel; make them happy.
Finally, the main reason the world gave Palestine to Israel was because of Jewish suffering int he Holocaust during World War II. The idea that the Jews in Israel should then turn around and do the same sorts of things to the Palestinians just is off the charts in terms of human decency. Jews should be models of compassion and understanding. When they turn out to be anything less, the world is horrified, not because what they do is so terrible on the scale of oppression, but because it shouldn’t even be on the scale at all.
American Jews should be demanding that Israel behave better, not defending Israel’s failures more vocally than the Israelis themselves. There are many wonderful Jews in American, but at the moment, they are all damned by the Jews who defend any reprehensible action that Israel takes.